Food of the opossum Trichosurus vulpecula in pastoral areas of Banks Peninsula, Canterbury
- Zoology Department, University of Canterbury
Previous work on the foods of the brushtailed opossum (Trichosurus vulpecula) in New Zealand has been concerned with the choice of plants taken in indigenous bush. Although clover was sometimes recorded as a preferred food the conclusion was reached that opossums "are not grass-eating animals" (Mason 1958), and that "the opossum is not, and will never become an important grassland pest" (Howard 1963).
Present research on Banks Peninsula, Canterbury, from November 1963 to August 1964 shows that although opossums appear to be more numerous close to favourable bush, they often occur many miles from any native or exotic forest. Under these circumstances opossums feed largely, if not exclusively, on plants serving as food or shelter for domestic stock. Clover, grass and pasture plants form a large part of their diet throughout the year.